A complete list of Australian films screening during the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

The acclaimed documentary Descent will screen at this year’s MDFF.

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This year, the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival heads online with a mammoth lineup of Australian content available for your viewing pleasure including the award -winning documentary, Descent, and the quirky art doc, D’art.

Here’s your complete list of Australian films available to rent from June 30 – July 15.

D’Art.

Features

Man on the Bus
Director Eve Ash
Producer Shaun Miller
Eve always thought there was something about her family. As a psychologist and filmmaker she explores her family background over a decade of filming. She follows unusual clues and makes a discovery that changes her life forever. 

Strangers to the World
Director 
Grant Fraser
Producer Jannine Barnes
Strangers to the World examines individual moral courage in the face of almost overwhelming pressure from the world to conform and in doing so, act against that conscience. A dramatised documentary starring Rachel Griffiths and Oscar Redding that examines the lives of two people, Etty Hillesum and Franz Jaegerstaetter, who both stood their ground against the Nazi oppressors in Europe in 1943 and suffered with their lives. 

Can Art Stop a Bullet?
Director 
Mark Street
Producer Fiona Cochrane
Can Art Stop a Bullet, at its simplest, is a documentary about artist William Kelly, but it’s so much more than that. Centred around the creation of an art work for Kelly’s State Library of Victoria Fellowship the film explores the relationship between art and activism, and the power of images to change how we think and to effect real change. 

Wongar
Director 
Andrijana Stojkovic
The Serbian-Australian writer B. Wongar “Sreten Bozic” fled his native Yugoslavia in the 1950s, worked with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Paris, and ended up in Australia in 1960. He still lives there, in a remote locale, together with his six dingoes. The Serbian filmmaker Andrijana Stojkovic follows Wongar in his chaotic home, dominated by old newspapers, black-and-white photos of Aboriginals and an ancient typewriter. 

After the Lock Out’s II: Gladys War on Music
Director 
Paul G Roberts
The sequel to the renowned ‘After the Lockouts’ feature, this second film explores the attack on live music that the Liberal NSW government’s new regulations poses, and takes a deeper look into the machinations of power and their impacts on business, culture and personal liberties. 

Wheels of Wonder
Director Roger Ungers
The Wheels of Wonder follows a team of ambitious social impact creators as they enter Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, with a curious project. Their mission: to trial and test an unusual prototype play cart with the hope of improving the lives of refugee children through “loose parts” play. 

The Boys Who Said NO!
Director 
Judith Ehrlich
The Boys Who Said NO! will tell for the first time the inspiring story and impact of the Vietnam War draft resistance movement. 

The World’s Best Film
Director 
Joshua Belinfante
In March 2014, Australian filmmaker Joshua Belinfante was told he had only a short time left to live. Forced to confront his own mortality, he thought about what he would do with his life if he was somehow given a second chance. He realised that he wanted to travel the world and find people that were fulfilling what their inner child always dreamt of doing. At the time of his diagnosis, Joshua was studying to become a solicitor and had put off his dreams to become a filmmaker. ‘The World’s Best Film’ is an anthology documentary about 13 individuals striving to be the world’s best at their passions.

Batman and Me
Director Michael Wayne
A look at the role of an obsessive collector in an increasingly pop culture-centric world, and the price that must be paid to be a part of fandom. 

 

D’Art
Director:
Karl Von Moller
Over a glass of red wine one evening, fine artist Robert Clinch, and collector, Jeff Brown postulated a fun idea, “What if we could find a Goggomobil Dart sports-car and paint Robert’s signature paper darts on it?” And so the story begins. G, O, G-G, O! What starts as a simple “art car” project quickly reveals itself to be a fascinating mix of art and engineering, combining car racing, automotive design and a passion for collecting art and fascinating objects, in one documentary 

 

Saving the Reef
Director Mimi Chau
The beauty of the Great Barrier Reef can take your breath away, but the pressures on its future are real and immediate. The actions of people across the planet will define the future of the Great Barrier Reef and reefs around the world.

Small Island Big Song
Director Tim Cole
Small Island Big Son is a music, film, live project featuring over a hundred musicians across 16 island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, creating a contemporary and relevant musical statement of a region in the frontline of cultural and environmental challenges. 

Ocean to Sky
Director Michael Dillion
Soon after the tragic death of his wife and youngest daughter, Sir Edmund Hillary embarks on his greatest adventure- a journey by jet boat and foot along the entire length of India’s sacred river Ganges. It will either cost him his life or bring him back to life. 

More Than a Mile
Director Alexander Michael
‘More than a Mile’ is a documentary following the lives of a runner and his friend on their six-month journey towards the Beer Mile World Classic. 

Descent
Director Nays Baghai
Kiki Bosch is a professional ice freediver from the Netherlands; she dives into the coldest waters on the planet on one breath without a wetsuit, from the iceberg fjords of Greenland to the frozen lakes of Finland. Her initiation into the cold was the debilitating trauma from when she was raped as a young woman, and in search of healing. Ever since she discovered the joys of cold water freediving and overcame her scars, Kiki has travelled far and wide, not only to push her physical and psychological limits, but also to inspire others to harness the power of the cold in similar ways. 

Leaving Allen Street
Director Katrina Channells
After years of living an institutionalised life, a group of intellectually disabled adults discover what it feels like to be free.

Shorts 

By the River
Director Dan Braga
Stretching along the river Ganges rests Varanasi, the holiest of India’s seven sacred cities, and a place where devout Hindus go to die in hopes of achieving moksha – becoming liberated from the cycle of rebirth 

Manus
Director Angus Macdonald
Hundreds of innocent refugees and asylum seekers faced more than six years captivity at the hands of the Australian Federal Government on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea: isolated, separated from their families and losing hope of ever being freed to start their lives over. Secretly captured footage enabled them to tell their stories. 

Inside the Fence
Director
Daniel Clarke and Amy Pysden
Australia’s self-proclaimed maverick of the conservation movement, Dr John Wamsley, built the nation’s first predator-proof fence; a unique ecosystem known as Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary that challenged conventional thinking about zoos 

True Vision
Director Diana Fisk
Two women on the opposite side of a diagnosis, True Vision is an exploration of how people deal with unexpected obstacles
in their lives, and the perceptions that go hand in hand with diagnosis and disability. 

A Women’s Calling
Director Ivy Staker 
Doomadgee women look beyond themselves, rekindling a sense of purpose by helping Papua New Guinea women in extreme poverty. 

Sidelines
Director Eliya Cohen
Born and bred Hobartians and best mates, Shaun and Zac, fulfil a lifelong dream to create their own cricket team, despite financial and social struggles to get it up and running. But once they got going, the pair struggled and fought, to motivate and keep their team of Aussie blokes in the game. 

Perspectives Jon Julio
This short takes a look at the rich history of the Australian skating scene through the eyes of Jon Julio, the sport’s longest standing professional athlete and most respected industry leader. Through his connection to the Australian scene in the early 90s, Jon sheds light on the country’s unique influence during the sport’s founding years and the importance of the leaders from skating’s past in 2019. 

Clockumentary
Director Ursula Woods
Description Brian Toggle is a self-proclaimed timekeeper and expert drummer who plays in Tasmanian art pop band, Sunset Thrills. But his theories of timing don’t always bode well with other members in the group. 

Art of Doodling
Director Nicola Macindoe
Is doodling an art form? Through three refreshing artistic viewpoints, the award-winning short documentary “The Art of Doodling” attempts to answer how much of ourselves we can find in the scribbles we create. 

Kebab Man
Director Declan Arrighi
In 1999, Ahmad ‘Al’ Karanouh moved to the remote Australian town of Coonamble with dreams of starting a kebab stand. As the first Arab Muslim to move into town, he was warned he would not be welcome. Would Al be able to convince the locals his kebabs were the best in the bush? Or would he be forced to pack up and take his dreams elsewhere? 

Sea Rogue
Director Matt Blyth
“I look into their eyes, their lives are fading thin, I’ve been treading water all night, now I must swim.” 

Fire Sticks
Director Clare Richardson
Description As devastating wildfires become increasingly common and intense, Australia is looking for answers in Aboriginal knowledge that goes back thousands of years. Traditional burning could hold the keys to helping stop bushfires– but Indigenous fire practitioners in northern Queensland are fighting for the right to burn their own land. 

Bernards Dream
Director
Mayeta Clark
Bernard Tipiloura has a dream: to bring back the once-famous canoe festival between Bathurst and Melville Islands. We follow Bernard as he sets about trying to build a canoe with a group of young men in Wurrumiyanga. Bernard reminisces about the past, and tells us his vision for the future. 

Caring for Ngarrindkerri Sea Country
Director Benno Thiel
Description Caring for Ngarrindjeri Sea Country explores the effort to regrow and revitalize colonial farming land on the coast of South Australia. The documentary speaks with Indigenous Elders Uncle Buddy and Uncle Doug as they explain their connection with country, the significance of the regrowth and what it means for the future. 

Melbourne Shorts 1

Spirit 
Director Jane Dyson
When Saraswati arrives as the first educated daughter-in-law in a Himalayan village, she wonders how she will ever feel at home. But faced with the scepticism of an older generation of women, she grows determined to succeed 

What Goes Wrong with Cancer
Director Dr Maja Divjak
Our first official Peter Mac animation reveals the invisible molecular world within our cells and how this finely tuned world can occasionally become disrupted, leading to cancer. Peter Mac is also showcased as a world leader in cancer research, treatment and diagnostics and allied health, always employing the latest available technologies. As such, Peter Mac is Australia’s only hospital solely dedicated to the overarching theme of cancer. 

Bright Lights the Perils of Gambling
Director Charby Ibrahim
A 25 year addiction to poker machine gambling has cost ‘Sharon’ almost everything… and very nearly her life in this short, fully animated documentary, voiced by Claudia Karvan. 

The Last Extinction
Director Reilly Archer-Whelan
In an attempt to improve human life, we have been blind to the health of the planet. Hundreds of species are going extinct each day. 

The Horses
Director
Nick Barkla
Max, a traumatised war veteran, finds healing working with a traumatised ex-racehorse. 

The Missing
Director Jary Nemo
Description When WW1 brought Australians face to face with mass death a Red Cross Information Bureau and post-war graves workers laboured to help families grieve for the missing. 

Accounts of a Nuclear Whistle Blower
Director Naveed Farro
Description Accounts of a Nuclear Whistleblower is a documentary that uncovers Australia’s dark history of nuclear testing. Avon Hudson describes the atomic tests undertaken by the British Government within the area of Maralinga, SA, in the 1950’s and 60s. 

Melbourne Shorts 2

Chen
Director Orit Novak
‘CHEN’ tells the story of Chinese Australian dancer Chengwu Guo. Who at the age of 10 was thrown into the strict and rigorous training world of the Beijing Dance Academy. Whilst enduring long periods of time away from his family and being subjected to harsh training methods,  

Wave
Director Zhang Xiaoan
The film records a day of Akebaierjiang, a Uyghur young man living in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, China. He is passionate about popping dancing when not working as a doctor on the night shift at the Emergency Center. As an ER doctor, he is committed, but he never has the same enthusiastic enjoyment as when dancing 

Bound
Director Emmy Clifton
Through the perspective of a 15th century hand painted book from the rare books collection at the State Library of Victoria, the film Bound explores the way in which people throughout history have valued objects that are not from their own time. The film asks us to ponder how the seemingly mundane objects in our current world will be valued in the future. 

A Thousand Words Unspoken
Director Derek Ho
A Thousand Words Unspoken is a personal story about brotherly love and betrayal. 

Silver Lining
Director Ran Li
In Melbourne, a non-English speaking Chinese migrant tries to live on her own after the death of her husband. 

Out of the Closets into the Streets
Director Jary Nemo
In 1970s Melbourne, Australia, a group of students made a stand for gay pride at a time when homosexuality was criminalised and discrimination and abuse was widespread.When being gay meant hiding your true self. Where the act of coming out was a radical form of protest.More than 40 years on, Gay Liberation Front members reflect on the impact of those days.

Intimate Strangers
Director CHOUWA LIANG
Intimate Strangers is a 4-minute documentary about the journey of two Chinese homosexuals, Qiang and Yiling, looking for “marriage of convenience” within the Chinese LGBT group in Australia. Both of them are trying hard to find the perfect “partner” with which to build a stable fake relationship. 

I Love You Too
Director CHOUWA LIANG
A gentle, reflective documentary about the relationship between a young woman (the filmmaker) and her mother. The filmmaker held a live Chinese painting performance to support her mother reclaiming her artist past. 

Melbourne Shorts 3

After the Earthquake
Director Mark Hellinger
After the 2015 Nepalese earthquake thousands of houses were destroyed. Families were forced to build temporary housing to live in. Four years later nothing has changed. How do these people survive and what hope do they have? 

Keeper of Bees
Director Stevie Mack
Mark finds his place among bees, family and nature as he recounts his transition from childhood through to adulthood, to keeper of bees. 

Courage to Change
Director Christian Buxton
Carlo is talented surfer, skier and entrepreneur from Torquay with a beautiful wife and kids. Even with all his ducks in a row something haunts him. A house fire and other events will push him to face his demons 

Many Roads
Director
Jary Nemo
In the 1850s tens of thousands of Chinese people flocked to South Eastern Australia, joining people from around the world who came chasing the lure of gold. Fleeing violence, famine and poverty in their homeland they sought fortune for their families in the place they called ‘New Gold Mountain’. Facing discrimination and injustice they carved out lives in this strange new land. 

Vigilance
Director Tess McArthur-Dowty
‘Vigilance’ explores how it feels to be a woman moving through the world at night, and reclaims the horror-like nightscape of Melbourne to open discussions about whether it is worth trading freedom of movement for feelings of safety. 

Yellow
Director Chris Franklin
When Australian documentary photographer Andrew Chapman was invited to the Austin Hospital in Melbourne to photograph open heart surgery for TIME magazine, the transplant team in the operating theatre next door invited him to photograph them as well. Little did he know, this same surgical team would be saving his life 17 years later. 

Superheroes and Me
Director Liam Burke
Superheroes & Me is an affectionate portrait of the many ways that superheroes inspire us. With contributions from superhero stars, comic creators, and costume-clad fans, Superheroes & Me unmasks how these escapist fantasies can bring people together and provide hope in difficult times. 

Melbourne Short 4

Melbourne a City Sleeps
Director Jamie van Leeuwen
In March 2020, Melbourne changed. Our way of life became disrupted by a global pandemic. This micro documentary explores those impacts 

Africa on Air
Director Tom Lowe
“Ride the airwaves with radio presenter Stani Goma for a unique perspective on the changing face of African music and culture in Melbourne today.” 

Hayat
Director: Rendah Haj
Rahma, a single mother of four, encourages her children to maintain a strong sense of family, faith and cultural identity. This inevitbly is contrasted with the difficulties and disconnect she faces as a migrant and Muslim living in Melbourne. 

Stay Sharp
Director Lauren Hester
Stay Sharp is a short documentary exploring Melbourne’s iconic and often misunderstood Sharpie subculture of the 1970s, focusing on its resurgence in recent decades. 

The Changing Art of Skyler Ru
Director Tom Vogel
Artist Skylar Ru Silva explains how he is obsessed with creating. In the process of creating he paints over old works and does not have the attachment to his work like some other artists. The process means more to him than the actual end piece. 

The King of Frankston
Director Kristina Kraskov
The King of Frankston tells the story of a town with a bad name through the search for its most famous resident. An unlikely local legend known for his incredibly short shorts, confident stride and impressive sneaker collection, this hero was seen every day strutting the streets of Frankston until he disappeared. With thousands of dedicated fans, why does no one know his true identity? Surrounded by negative stereotypes, is this the hero Frankston needs or the hero it deserves? 

Burgermen
Director Jamie Wilson
Burgermen is a retrospective documentary that takes a look inside a iconic Melbourne hamburger shop (Dannys) and the men who started it all back in the 1950’s. 

You can find more details about each title here.

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